Filmmakers today are tying up with producers, directors and artistes across countries and continents in a bid to reach out to a bigger audience. On the sets of The Desire, Shilpa Shetty discusses this phenomenon with Hiren Kotwani.
Given how choosy you’ve become about your movie projects, why the desire to do The Desire?
(Laughs) Well, it’s a great script helmed by a critically acclaimed director, R Sarath, opposite Chinese superstar Xia Yu. It not only requires me to look good but perform too. And best of all, I got to learn Odissi.
I’m matching steps with Jaya Pradha who is an expert in Bharat Natyam. We rehearsed together and it was fun. (Laughs) She’s a lot like my mother (Sunanda Shetty) who’s far more beautiful than me.
Of the Chinese stars, only Jackie Chan and to some extent Jet Li are popular here.. few know of Xia Yu.
I’m not known in China either. The Desire is targeted towards the international audience too. We’re planning to take it to Cannes. It will be the first Hindi film to be officially released in China, dubbed in Chinese of course. Xia is huge there.
Your other movie, The Man, has been delayed following differences between actor-director Sunny Deol and co-director Neeraj Pathak.
Now where did you hear that? We’re well on schedule and have a major shoot coming up next month in London. Sunny and Neeraj are in complete sync.
You’re only doing these two movies, right?
Yeah.. but not for lack of offers. I’ve been working for a long time and now I only want to do movies that offer me something challenging.. something I haven’t done before. I have my hands full with the IPL and am happy to space out my releases.
Talking of the IPL, you seemed nervous at the auction.
(Giggles) I’ve been to art auctions before but this was the first time I was seeing cricketers being bought. IPL is a business proposition for Raj (Kundra) and me. We were investing in a reliable and consistent team. We replaced Shoab
Tanvir with fast bowler Shaun Tait. We put in a bid for Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pieterson too. But Vijay (Mallya) wanted Flintoff and Chennai Superkings wanted Pieterson. (Shrugs) No sweat!
Given your long friendship with Vijay Mallya, he must be upset you chose Rajasthan Royals over his Royal Challengers?
(Laughs) He was shocked! But he’s a large-hearted man and is happy for me.
You didn’t seem keen on cricket before?
I wasn’t keen on Test matches but I’ve always been hooked on to T20. I was rooting for Rajasthan Royals last season. I was out of town during the finals and had no access to TV or radio. But I was on the phone with Shamita (sister Shamita Shetty) who kept me updated. When my team won, I shouted so much that I couldn’t speak for the next three days. I guess it was God’s way of connecting me with the team.
How do you plan to motivate your team?
The best way is to stay out of their hair. I’ll always be there for every match but I don’t need to run out on the field or visit the locker room. That I’ll leave to the team manager.
You must be thrilled with your Rs 75 crore Valentine’s Day gift?
It wasn’t planned as a Valentine’s gift though it’s a sweet suggestion. Since I’ve also put in some money, it’s like both of us gifted each other. (Laughs) Of course, I’m expecting another gift for Valentine’s Day. I’ve been working non-stop for too long.. I would enjoy a holiday.
How’s your home production going? Apparently, UTV backed out following the economic slowdown?
The film I was planning first has been put on the backburner for now. UTV is still backing me but I have to zero in on a script. I’m in no rush. I don’t have to produce a certain number of films annually.
Buzz is you want Akshay Kumar to play the lead?
The actors I wanted didn’t have the dates we required. So we’ll start when the dates have been sorted out. Meanwhile, I’ll make another film, with another director.
Shamita has made it clear that I should not make a film specifically for her. If she suits the subject and likes the role, she’ll do it. But yes, I want her in my first production.
Shamita was a better actress than me when she started. I grew as a performer only in the last seven years.
Is marriage on the cards now that Raj and you have bought a new house in Juhu?
His divorce has come through. When we do decide to get married, you will know. For now, I have another business announcement to make in the next few days.
Are your parents happy with your choice given that Raj has a failed marriage behind him?
My parents had no such apprehensions. Raj is a good man and that’s what matters. They’re happy for me.